Time Allocation: Motion.

I move:

That, notwithstanding Standing Order 41, the following arrangements shall apply to the debate on a non-Government motion in the names of Senators whose group does not exceed three members —

(i) the time allowed for the debate shall not exceed one and a half hours;

(ii) the speech of the proposer shall not exceed 20 minutes and he (or some other Senator authorised by him who has not already spoken) shall be entitled to ten minutes for a speech in reply;

the speech of each other Senator shall not exceed ten minutes.

At their last meeting the Committee on Procedures and Privileges decided that Labour Senators should be given an entitlement to non-Government time, Private Members' Time, but that in view of their small numbers this entitlement should be halved to one and a half hours. Without this motion a debate on a Labour Party motion would automatically be entitled, under Standing Order No. 41, to the full three hours. This was not the intention. The purpose of this motion is to regularise the position and to adapt the relevant Standing Order accordingly.

I want to thank the Leader of the House and the other group leaders in the Committee on Procedure and Privileges for the facility they have afforded the Labour Party to participate in Private Members' Time in this House. I accept the conditions laid down as being fair and I want to thank the Members on both sides of the House for facilitating us.

I do not disagree with this motion but it is a dangerous precedent to barge through Standing Orders for the sake of one party in the House. Suppose one Member of the Fianna Fáil Party in this House defected to the Progressive Democrats, God forbid that it might happen——

An Leas-Chathaoirleach

We would be in favour of abolition at that stage.

——would it be appropriate to give that single Member of the Fianna Fáil Party, because he represents a larger party in the Dáil than the Labour Party, Private Members' Time? What we have got to decide is what criteria we use. We have Standing Orders and we are ignoring Standing Orders by passing this motion. The voice of the Labour Party is an important one in this House——

Thank you.

——but this is a dangerous exception to make without defining the terms of reference.

This Standing Order was not changed by way of barging through anything. It was as a result of meetings which took place over a number of weeks of the Committee on Procedure and Privileges. Since Senator Ross is a member of a group, the representative of that group was party to the arrangements that have been made.

It is not binding on me.

It may not be binding on the Senator but the Committee on Procedure and Privileges decided that this should happen. I think it is a good motion.

Question put and agreed to.